Protect your septic system when it floods

The excessive rainfall we have had not only this week but also this year can cause problems for homeowners with septic systems. Most septic systems rely on the soil surrounding them to partially clean or treat the wastewater.  When that soil is already too wet, the system may not work as well, or may not work at all.

How the systems work

Septic systems work by treating the wastewater from your home on-site rather than sending it to a local sewage treatment plant. Inside the septic tank liquids are separated from solids and floatable materials (i.e. oil and grease). The organic matter within the system breaks down and the liquid wastewater is then released back into the soil. The release of the water back into the soil can happen either by using a leach field, or a mound system. The surrounding soil acts as a filter to clean the water even more.

What happens when the ground is wet

When the drain field of your septic system is already too wet or flooded it may not be able to handle the water from your septic system. Under normal conditions, soil particles have pockets of air in them or open space that allows the water to slowly flow through it. When it’s flooded, any extra water in the soil has no place to go. When this happens, it can cause your system to back up, or not work properly.

What should you do if a flood occurs?